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Let Math Win and Enjoy your Fantasy Football Draft

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How to feed your need to be competitive in fantasy football without taking the fun out of the experience.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In years past, I’ve freaked out about drafts. I’ve bought a bunch of magazines, I’ve read as much as I could and even practiced drafting in order to “get a feel for the meta,” to see how it changes over time. Yes, I might have a problem, but this isn’t Dr. Phil and you aren’t a paid TV actor pretending to be a doctor, so let’s keep it moving, shall we?

Sure, practicing a draft can help you get used to whatever client you’re using but more seasoned drafters already know their client and can use it with ease. We all have jobs, families, gods forbid you have children or are a caretaker and all you really wanna do is whoop your friends in fantasy football this year, right? You don’t have to buy magazines, have an ESPN+ subscription or pay Matthew Berry’s mortgages on Rotoworld.

There is a ton of free information out there and most people are still using ESPN’s default rankings when they draft (or Yahoo! if you’re a sadist), so just by using any other source for information, you’re probably ahead of your peers. The reason I bring that up is that MOST LEAGUES ARE NOT STANDARD scoring unless you’re playing with random people. Most leagues I’ve played in are either PPR or .5PPR. Remember this before you draft this year!

There are people way smarter than me with apparently a whole lot more spare time that put together the easiest way to draft I’ve ever come across. Since I don’t see this resource shared elsewhere, I’d like to share my findings in attempt to ease your draft burden(s).

If you’ve ever heard of an aggregate (think Yahoo!’s front page: an aggregate of news stories from different sources), I found one that takes the results of fantasy football drafts from multiple sites and continually updates a draft board for you, so that when you go to do your draft, you can see what everyone has been doing up to your draft date. You can predict people’s picks using an aggregate, which lets you relax during the draft (because you know who is most likely to be chosen) and then you can calmly make your picks knowing math is on your side.

Most of the drafts I participate in are run on ESPN’s draft program, which I find clunky and basically useless the farther into a draft I get. I want an empty sheet that I can just manually input each of the picks as the draft progresses and typing or writing each draft picks name down isn’t possible because of time constraints. A tool that does exactly what I want already exists and you can find it right here. You’re welcome.

Screenshot of the draft sheet
https://jayzheng.com/ff/#/draft-aid

Not only does this use an aggregate (multiple sites to pull draft results from to create your big board), it’s an empty sheet to fill out, it has position rankings, an overall big board and you can draft multiple formats (Standard, PPR and .5 PPR). Perfect. You’ll use this on draft day to follow along with your draft without having to write or type a bunch of stuff or leaf through a stack of paper.

Now, in order to arrive at the conclusions on that sheet, there has to be a site with a bunch of math (mostly so you can shove this in people’s faces when they complain about how simple this is, how it must be fake and/or how it will ruin your leagues, drafts, etc.) My wife used this method two years ago and won both leagues.

That site is here and it shows you a graphical breakdown of what are called tiers, which is something we can get into if you have questions in the comments or another article. Basically we have the method by which we arrive at conclusions (Boris Chen’s data) and then we have the implementation of said method with the draft aid.

Just a shot of the tiers
http://www.borischen.co/p/half-ppr-draft-tiers.html

I can’t stress how helpful these two sites have been for me over the last few years. If I am thinking less about the draft leading up to it, I find it easier to just go with the flow and let’s face it, leagues are won on the waiver wire anyway and I’m no help to you there. Perhaps I’ll do a bunch of research, figure out all the secrets and then just keep them to myself because this isn’t about you anymore.

This is war.

Now get off my lawn and practice drafting until you stop taking your team’s franchise quarterback 10 rounds before he would normally get drafted.

I’m looking at you, Lindsey.

Here’s a live fantasy draft I did on ESPN using the tools I introduced in this article. Beware! Check your volume!